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And I'm not alone. Here's what one of my favorite performance writers has to say about the pervasive snake oil nonsense known as "hacks."
There are only a few people whose comments are particularly meaningful to me when it comes to performance enhancement. One of them is Brad Stulberg, who is a fan of Ryan Holiday. They aren't the only folks I read or follow, but this is one reason Brad's stuff regularly shows up as links in my material.
He recently penned a quick article about his frustration with our love of the hack.
From Brad's piece:
It’s a mix of arrogance and perhaps naïve optimism. Yet the cost is that we so often throw out common sense and age-old wisdom to pursue the latest and greatest hack to a better life. Shortcuts are the way. The goal is no longer the path, the goal is the finish line as quickly and easily as possible. The Buddhist motto “chop wood, carry water” has been replaced with “hack your life.”
The problem with all of these grand promises? The vast majority of them are b-------t. Complete, utter b---------t.
Part of my being short-tempered with the hack culture comes from having been around long enough to watch the same kinds of things rise and fall over the years. Nothing that overpromises works. What happens is that time and again, people hope for an easy fix only to discover that their wallets have been raided and their time stolen forever.
It only takes a few times down the Yellow Brick Road yourself before you really do understand that what tends to be tried and true works precisely because it has been tried and it is true. New research can shed new light on why something works. However, common sense, which is about as rare as a white elephant these days, leads the more sober of us to point out that if there really were some magical fruit that caused weight loss, it would have been touted as the THING of the CENTURY, it would have been sucked up and sold by big pharma. That's just too obvious.
Which is why so many folks are fleeced regularly and convinced to buy junk from junk morons like Goop and all the associated air heads in that community. Pseudo science, as Brad points out, wrapped up in very special sounding language. Here, sign right up.
There is nothing that will change the simple fact that you and I have to do the work if we want strength. Or health. Or any semblance of a better life. No real shortcuts exists to "get" to do the kinds of work that it takes years to establish yourself in. The internet simply gave agency to a great many more side show barkers and bad guys of all ages, shapes, sizes, colors, creeds and religion. Nothing has changed much except the medium.
Some of my most popular articles on Newsbreak were popular largely because I think folks thought I was going to give them some inside scoop on a weight loss secret.
My secrets aren't secrets. It's the same basic common sense stuff that we've known for years. Nothing special, no drugs or potions or lotions or sauces or whatever. Discipline, hard work, change your lifestyle, stop eating junk, move more, stop obsessing about stuff and work on being fit instead of thin.
Here's what Brad says:
Anyone who knows anything about high-performance knows this. To get better, you need to put in the work. Show up. Be consistent. Seek social support and surround yourself with people who will push you and hold you accountable (now perhaps that’s something new technology could actually help with.)
You see why I like the guy. I don't much care for crap science, liars, b----t artists and scammers. The world has proliferated with them along with the proliferation of people foolish enough to be scammed by them. In one way, that there are so many scammers now speaks in part to the collective impatience with doing the work to earn just about anything: health, skills, titles, credentials, respect. The list is endless.
I have written a number of times about how often people badger me to know how I got my guns (nearly fifty years at the gym) how I got my body (diet, exercise, discipline, rinse, repeat) and how I get to do what I do (forty years of writing, corporate consulting experience with more than one prize salted in for good measure). The answer is, always and forever, WORK.
You know the response. That takes too long. Have at it Sparky, you go for that shortcut. And see how far you end up behind those who did the real work.
Most American adults would fail the marshmallow test. We are large infants, demanding credit for work we don't do (which on Medium is called plagiarism), want the perfect body but won't give up the junk food we love, we want muscles but can't be bothered going to the gym, we want sex but we don't want to bother with protection, we want to be considered great lovers but can't be bothered to give a damn about our partners.
Being a fully-developed, whole human is a full time, never-ending, demanding job. There is no hack to becoming a fully-realized person. There is no time when we have it all or are finished with our becoming. To me, that is in part the great joy and challenge of our existence: learning to be in the journey, which only ends with our last breath.
You can't hack that either.
While this is a terrible hijacking of one of the great movie lines of all time delivered by the inimitable Jack Nicholson,
You can't hack the truth!
No, you can't. But you can most certainly learn to enjoy the journey.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this story, here’s my hopefully gentle way of ushering you to click the box below to follow my stuff. When you do that, I’ll know you’re comfortable with hearing from me once in a while.